Mahayana Buddhism and Early Advaita Vedanta (Study)

by Asokan N. | 2018 | 48,955 words

This thesis is called: Mahayana Buddhism And Early Advaita Vedanta A Critical Study. It shows how Buddhism (especially Mahayana) was assimilated into Vedantic theorisation in due course of time. Philosophical distance between Mahayana Buddhism and Advaita-Vedanta became minimal with the advent of Gaudapada and Shankaracharya, who were both harbinge...

Chapter 5.3 - Comparative study of the Absolute (Shunya or Brahman)

This world is unreal. And it has independent existence. It is unreal duality of phenomenal existence. It is unreal as the superimposed object, which we have seen in the rope-snake analogy. It can be realized by the knowledge of the self, by the non-dual knowledge.

It is the difference between the absolute and pratibhasika ideal.

“When the duality vanishes, the non-dual concept of Advaita and the Phenomena could be realized. Thus the relation of Absolute, Shunya or Brahman and the phenomenal appearances are both transcendental and immanent.”[1]

In Madhyamika, Absolute or pure consciousness is the constructive subject-object duality in the phenomenal level. In the Vedanta, absolutism devoid of difference, Brahman is the ground or adhishtana of all cause of material as well as subjective appearances. Brahman afford lends itself to be super-imposed. In Advaita, Phenomenal appearances are the lower order and it is pre-supposed and limited by maya or avidya. In it, Brahman is the pure sat and which is appeared as the objective as the primordial thing.

As Murty says:

“The Madhyamika and Vedanta exhibit some common features. They differ in the mode of their approach. In the central state of the Absolute, they may be identical. ‘Silence’ is their most popular language”.[2]

In both systems the Absolute is transcendent and phenomena are their essential form. The Absolute can be realized through empirical intuition.

And it should be experienced by various methods of practices and disciplines. In both the systems:

“they further agree with regard to the nature of status of phenomena which are appearances. The appearance can be negated completely by the true knowledge of the Absolute. The nature of avidya and its orientation to the absolute differ in each system. Absolutism is really an Advaita or advayavada (Madhyamika), non-dualism.”[3]

The illusory objects and their appearances differ in these systems. The Madhyamika negates the conceptualist tendency (vikalpa) and Vedanta negates difference (bheda). Actuality is subject and object and the appearances. The real is universal and identical. Again both formulate the distinction of reality and appearance, as we mentioned earlier as paramartha and vyavahara. In the Vedantic sense, the vyavaharika which analyzed in an illusing apprehension is analogically applies to the paramarthika level. Then only the Vedanta view is determined by the reality as in the transcendental level. This happens generally in the practical life and illusory vision into a reality that which is the Absolute and can be experienced. These experiences are in the phenomenal level to spiritual level. There we need the ideal of spiritual discipline.

Footnotes and references:


Ibid. p. 319


Ibid. p. 320


Ibid. p. 321

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